Josh Steel is about to undergo his first season as a professional basketball player, having recently signed for the Surrey Scorchers in the British Basketball League.
The 20 year old played for one season at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. He made the switch to the States after lifting the National Division 1 title with Kent:
“The credit honestly go to Lloyd Gardner and (the) staff at the Barking Abbey programme who do a very good job of helping players move on to the states, promoting players and and going to play at tournaments within the US, and also having a number of contacts with coaches that have developed over the years. They make playing in the states a reality for a lot of young players including myself.”
Steel spoke about the transition of being ‘the guy’ at Kent, to a more reserved role at Duquesne:
“It was definitely a difficult transition from being one of the main focal points on a team to being the player that might not even see the floor some nights, especially when you know in your heart you are better than the guy in front of you and deserve a real shot, but that’s just how college basketball is sometimes.
“I think it’s something that I needed as it reignited a fire inside me that might have been slowly fading, a constant will to be better, I had something to chase again.”
The 6″4 guard decided to return to Britain after one season in the States:
“I think one of the reasons I decided to leave the States and come back home was because I didn’t want to just transfer to any other school and not many schools even have scholarships in January. So coming home would give me more time to work on finding a school that would be a better fit or even decide if I wanted to go back.”
Steel explained of the difficulty of breaking in to professional basketball without an established College career behind him:
“Before coming to Surrey I had a got a tryout with a 1st division team in Slovenia (KK šenčur) probably just over a week before, however it ended up not working out. But I knew it would be an up hill battle being a player that didn’t have a college career and has gone a season without playing so I was prepared for that.”
Despite his difficult battle to break in to the professional game, Steel was an integral part of Great Britain’s Under-20 team, which has recently won promotion back to European Championships Division A:
“Getting promotion this summer was an amazing way to cap off my junior national team career as it’s something me and Coach Kapoulas have been chasing since 2012.
“I would love to play for my country again at the senior level it’s something I’m aspiring for the next opportunity there is, I want to make the next step.”
Being the youngest current player on the Scorchers roster, Steel is aware that he has an array of players to learn from that will undoubtedly develop his game further:
“I’m always trying to learn. From everyone on the team. Everyone brings something. Tayo (Ogedengbe) and Alex (Owumi) have a lot of experience in this league and I respect them a lot for that. This year for me is a lot about me getting back playing again and finding my groove. So I will look to them when the ups and downs come for sure.
“I get on with everyone on the team great, and that’s not all ways the case especially in a professional environment so I’m really grateful for that. I’m excited to go to battle with these guys and make it a special season for the organisation.”
He also believes the new group of players have what it takes to be in Championship contention come the end of the season:
“We have a lot of weapons and are versatile from 1 through 5, nobody is afraid to shoot the ball and we have good creators that are also willing passers. To me this is a good formula to have on the offensive side of the ball. Everyone has the same goal in mind, which is key to progressing throughout the season.”
Finally, Steel voiced his personal goals for the season, which includes raising a lot of eyebrows around the league, and inspiring other young players by proving the NCAA isn’t the only way to become a professional player:
“I want to be one of the best players in this league, I’d be lying if I said anything else, not just for myself to help my career moving forward but to help others young players in this country see that there is another way to reach your goals other than just going to the NCAA.”
You can catch Josh Steel’s first home game of the season on Sunday October 15th against the Worcester Wolves at Surrey Sports Park.